Tuesday, December 31, 2019

I'm addicted to trying to get things done...

This holiday season has been a pretty decent one.  Let's see if I can run through all of the different things that have been going on...

Wattam came out -- this is the crazy game I worked on for 2 years at Funomena.  I finally got around to grabbing a copy of it myself and it's been great (and silly) getting to actually play with it, and more importantly, seeing friends interact with it and play through it as well.  I'm reminded of a lot of the struggles that went on in development...

I released two new volumes (volume 4 and volume 5) of my custom ringtones series.  I don't know if anybody besides myself really uses these, but they're there anyways.  Along with the cover for Monthlies 2019.12, that makes 3 separate 100x100 pixel art drawings that I've done this month.  Feels nice to be able to churn these out with such regularity now.

I've finished my System Shock 2: UNN Nightwalker playthrough.  This one actually provided a good amount of challenge -- I went for a Standard weapons build and unfortunately did not manage to get to Standard 6 to use the assault rifle, so I was using the pistol and shotgun for the entire game, and barely managed to scrape by using the ammo and health that I was able to find along the way.  I wonder if my old Energy build would have actually fared a bit better since in that case you don't have to worry about ammo.  Heavy weapons 1 probably would have actually been a pretty sensible investment since it would allow you to make use of the grenade launcher.  If I had to give some tips to anybody else playing through this fan mission, I'd say that the french-epstein devices are actually relatively plentiful, so it might not be worth spending cyber modules on Modify.  I ended up with a fair number of ice picks too (I guess I always do), so maybe taking Hack all the way to 3 might not even be necessary either.

I tried out my first aLttP Randomizer seed!  I wasn't using the beginner mode, just did a normal open mode seed.  It actually ended up being a somewhat annoying seed, as I think it forced you to go to Turtle Rock twice, but regardless, it was a good experience trying to get more familiar with all of the different item locations and dungeons and all.  I'll look forward to trying more of this in the future...

I've finally gotten around to getting some spice organizers and racks for the kitchen!  Spices have previously just all been thrown in a cabinet in some non-organized fashion which makes them hard to access at times -- I've now got some countertop / fridge mounted racks to put stuff in, which not only makes the spices more accessible but also frees up the cabinet space, which will allow me to organize some of that stuff better.  Yay!

We are hoping for a Feb 22 Spring JaSmix date -- fingers crossed that everything works out there.  I'll also be DJing at FNW on Jan 24th -- been working out the setlist for that recently.

Xmas present and gifting is officially mission complete -- everything got delivered and mailed out as far as I know.  Excellent and let's go again next year!  I'll be enjoying the brief respite from letter writing in the beginning of the year.

Practiced some partner dance stuff.  Although my main struggles with dance have been socially and emotionally, I felt the need to work on stuff, and ended up working out a couple of various things, which was quite nice.

Thanks to a nice set of contact poi that was gifted to me for xmas, I'm now getting back into spinning!  It's actually been really satisfying getting a better handle on the momentum and control of the poi, especially now that I've got a set that has a bit more weight to it as compared with glowstringing.  I've still got much to learn, of course, but with the advent of super-helpful poi videos online and other learning resources, it no longer feels as much like hitting a brick wall when trying to learn various moves.

A bit hard to believe that I'll be back at work in just a couple of days, but it's an easier pill to swallow knowing that I don't actually have to go anywhere (not to mention it'll be a short week).  I'm beginning to realize the importance of having something, anything to look forward to when it comes to work, even if it's something really silly.

Overall I've gotten a good bunch of things done, including the aforementioned xmas gifts, some music releases (ringtones), and a bit of cleaning and such too.  I got a new external HD as well as a new SSD, and have migrated over to the new SSD (pretty seamlessly), as well as set up backups of external #1 to external #2, so none of my data has a single failure point anymore, yay!  I'll finish up the FNW playlist and try to get one or two more things done (album art for Remixes - Volume 2?)...it'd be nice if I could get around to a few other things too, like the 4-wide trainer or even an Unlock Everything update, but we'll have to see, some of those might still be left on the table.  Maybe at the very least I can play through the final chapter of Celeste...?

Monday, December 23, 2019

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

A Link to the Past

I make a wish, send a star, and pray,
I listen, share, and feel,
But can we ever truly understand each other's suffering?

I've finished A Link to the Past!

I was looking forward to this one for quite some time -- it's a bit of a crime, really, that I don't remember having fully gone through this game, though I do certainly remember all of it.  It's one of those numerous games that I played during the golden ages -- during my elementary school times, when we literally had three or four boxes full of NES and SNES cartridges for us to pick from.  You could call me spoiled, but having access to all of those titles really had a big impact on me.  Unfortunately I was also younger at the time, and as such was less mature both in terms of my gaming prowess as well as my diligence, so a great deal of these games I may not have actually played through all of the way.  Even the ones that I didn't, though, I usually had watched my brother play through.

It's refreshing to finally go back to these beloved classics, though it's debatable whether I should really call it "going back", as you really could argue that I've never left this era at all.

Anyways, Link to the Past was really fun!  I think there's an obvious comparison to be drawn between Link to the Past and Link's Awakening and I think in this regard everyone has their own preferences.  Link's Awakening probably sticks out as a favorite to a multitude of people (though it's completely overshadowed by people's love of Breath of the Wild, Ocarina of Time, and Wind Waker), but it's really hard for me to enjoy anything more than a proper SNES game.

Zelda games have an interesting challenge of trying to toe the line between complexity and momentum -- dungeon and world designs need to be interesting enough to actually make you think and explore, yet if they're too complex it leads to a feeling of being overwhelmed and losing your inertia.  It's been a while since I last played Link's Awakening, but I think this is one of the main points that I think ought to be compared between the two games.

I found the dungeons in LttP to be...quite refreshing, actually!  It actually hit a pretty sweet spot for me where I needed to spend some time revisiting/scouring some areas in search of something that I missed, but in the end was always able to get through things after enough effort and diligence.  There definitely weren't as many unique puzzly mechanics compared to the dungeons in Link's Awakening (remember carrying around the ball all around Eagle's Tower???), but I think the dungeon layouts themselves were a little more "satisfying".  I think a big part of this is actually just due to the simple fact that because there's more screen real-estate, you get these bigger rooms and longer corridors with a lot more visual and spatial differences compared to each other, whereas in Link's Awakening ALL of the rooms are the same size and shape.

You also get these large "hub" rooms, as well as rooms that have both a foreground and a background, which provide a lot more interest in terms of parsing them.  I quite enjoyed this aspect.

The overworld, as well, feels a lot more open and bigger (which it is), and I'd echo much the same sentiment about the freedom of navigating the space -- again due to the fact that you don't just have a fixed camera, but rather have screens that pan around.  Everything feels a lot more open, a lot more cinematic, which of course all makes sense.  It's a landscape rather than a small jigsaw puzzle.

The dark world / light world aspect of the game was actually pretty cool, and I found myself picking up on a lot more of the environmental clues hidden around in various places of the overworld than my 10-year-old self.

In the end I think a lot of it is going to come down to preference.  I watched a pretty good video comparing Oracle of Ages vs Oracle of Seasons and it seems like despite these two being "sister" games there is a ton of difference between the focus of each one -- with Ages being puzzle-focused, and Seasons being action-focused.  The dungeons in Link's Awakening I think (?) require you to keep track of a lot more things at once -- in general I found them to be much more mentally taxing.  In LttP the dungeons are more interesting to =explore=, but they're also simpler to actually get through and navigate for the most part.  Again, I think a big part of this is simply due to the room design -- what would be a single room in LttP could get split into 4, or even 6 rooms in Link's Awakening.  There's all of these different rooms everywhere so traversing the entire dungeon just takes longer and you need to remember many more areas in your mental map.  I think this is why in LttP I found myself rarely ever bringing up the actual dungeon map, but in Link's Awakening I remember using it all the time!  So the pacing is a lot different here.

In the end I think I can say what we all knew already -- LttP is probably still #1 in my heart.

Now that I've finished the game proper, this also opens up the whole door of.....Lttp randomizer!!!  We'll see if I start diving into that world....

I got myself some ballet slippers!  I'm not sure how often I will actually end up using them, but I'd like to give them a try, as they just...have a different aesthetic that I enjoy.

That's all for now really, this post was mainly a celebration of LttP :)  It really wasn't any less enjoyable despite the fact that I'm already somewhat familiar with all of it.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

It's pretty amazing...that some people can become strong, by following in the footsteps of others.

It might seem easier, to know the path to walk.  But I feel that it takes more courage.

It's ok to not have that courage.  As long as you find a way.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Xmas letters 2019:

I've got all of my mailing done!  Super on top of things this year.  I've got a couple of family presents left to find but other than that just have to coordinate with a few people to do in-person deliveries.  I don't even have to really make any big Santa runs this year.  Woo!

It helps a lot when your gifts can just fit inside envelopes, makes things super convenient

Monday, December 9, 2019

It's difficult to properly explain the concept of Meowmie.  It's not just cute things, nor is it just awkward things, nor is it just silly things.  Not all meowmie things are cats, though most cats are meowmie.  Meowmie is something pure and innocent, but meowmie is not childhood either.  Meowmie is different than kawaii.  Neither Hello Kitty, nor Pusheen, are very meowmie.  Perhaps the best example that exists of meowmie, is Michiri Neko March.  But there are different facets to meowmie as well.

Regardless of all of that, meowmie is very important to me.  It is one thing that I can believe in when confronted with the darkness that exists in this world.

12/9 -- Rest in peace Meowmie.  You were really fat and awkward.  And really fat.  Above all, you were very meowmie.  You have not been with us for quite some time, but Meowmie lives on as a way of life.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

I've been around people a LOT these past few days...there are only like 2 people in the world that I can be around and actually still recharge my social energy and I was definitely with many many more people than that.

Today, I'm going to spend the entire day ALONE woooooooooooooooooooo

Part of the reason I write in a public blog at all is because I think it's important to validate human existence, experience, and struggles, and that validation is not something I see much of in our social media spaces.  Reading about other people's struggles in high school, however petty, vague, or mysterious they might have been, helped me feel that I was not alone.  It's only natural that I feel the need to continue that on.  If not to set an example, then at least to pay it forward.

That said, it's time that I say a little something more concrete about dance.

Let me start by saying this: If you are one of those people who backs away from dancing because you aren't good enough, then let me tell you what I've learned after 10 years: there is no such thing as "good enough".  The real reason behind doubting yourself is simply being afraid.  Afraid of being vulnerable, of not performing to a partner's expectations, of not doing the right thing.  There's nothing wrong with that at all, but don't fool yourself into thinking that it's a problem that will go away "once you're better".

The more I've practiced, the more I realize my own flaws.  And believe me, it is very difficult to work on the things that you aren't good at.  It's easy to practice what you're good at.  It's hard to put the work into things that you struggle with, things that you aren't already comfortable and confident in.  It's one of the reasons why many dancers struggle to pick up a different role once they've already become comfortable in one.  And yes, after 10 years of dancing, I still have many things that I have shied away from.

I bring this up because I've been struggling with an issue lately where every time I go to a dance event, I see people socializing, having fun, and putting themselves out there, and every time that happens I am torn between two feelings: a feeling that I am wholly inadequate at my inability to be vulnerable and outgoing, and a feeling that I should stay back and not even try to be that way.

But if I've learned anything over the past couple of years, it's that I can only start to approach this feeling of inadequacy after accepting that it's just fine if I decide not to grow at all, too.  I must accept myself, and feel comfortable in my own skin, before I start to look towards growth.  But it's been hard lately, and that is part of the reason that I've started to think about Sayuri again.  Because Sayuri never doubted herself, or who she wanted to be.  She never needed to change, because she understood that who she was was already beautiful, and she only needed to be herself -- nothing more.

It's been hard to accept myself, when I see how much better other people are.  Not in the way that they dance, but in the fact that they DO dance.  I never used to care so much about how I made other people felt.  But I'm no longer ignorant, and I feel a heavy responsibility now to be more confident, even though no one ever asked me to.

In my college years, and even afterwards, I often used to ask myself, "What would Timm[ie] do?".  The Timm[ie] of my high school days, who knew so strongly what defined himself, and the standards he held himself to.  But I find myself now asking, "What would Sayuri do?".

Sayuri's confidence, I think, came from a different place than what I see from others on the dance floor.  It is a different kind of confidence, once that is not outward, but inward...a calm feeling of peace.  And as I think about this, I realize that this...this, is really what I am searching for.  Not to be like anyone else that I see, but to be warm, polite, and welcoming in a way that only I know.  I, and Sayuri herself.

For much of my life, the path forward to success looked different than what I was told.  I was told to be assertive, confident, talkative.  I was told to move on, to let go of the past.  I was told to give up on old friends.  I was told that I should not wear certain clothes, and that I should not behave in certain ways.  But it was only through finding my own path that I was able to find my own strength.

It's selfish, maybe even egotistical, but I sometimes hope that if I become strong, I will be able to serve as an example for others to learn from.  To show people, that strength and beauty can take more than one form.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Contra 3, completed

Mission accomplished.  I finished Contra 3: The Alien Wars (SNES), 1-player mode, on Hard difficulty.  This took a way shorter time than I expected, after spending some time learning through the various levels.  I actually cleared stages 1 and 2 without losing a single life, and almost did the entire thing without any continues!  Unfortunately, I died on the VERY last section (escaping while on the helicopter) as I only had 2 lives and did a silly messup, and didn't have much practice against that boss besides.  (It's not a particularly hard fight, I just brain-farted).  It took me 2 more continues to get through that stage with a decent weapon/setup but it honestly wasn't too hard.

Anyways, feeling pretty accomplished, having finished both this and Super Punch Out as well as having finished my Super Metroid RBO run.  The next SNES game I'll play is going to be A Link to the Past.  I've never fully properly played this one (only bits and pieces) so I'm actually extremely excited about it!

This is probably not going to be found by anybody relevant, but some assorted tips and tricks on the off-chance that you happen to try playing through Contra 3:

- The Crusher missiles (C) are amazing weapons, most of the bosses become exponentially easier if you've got one or two on hand.

- Learn to weapon-switch and fire both weapons by spamming X, this increases your DPS by a ton, especially with weapons like the Crusher missiles.  This is a bit awkward to manage with just your thumb, so at many points I actually used a claw grip instead.

- Don't be afraid to use bombs for any sections where you think they might help, or where you anticipate losing a life.  You have a lot of lives to throw around, you may as well get the most out of the free bomb you get with each one.

- You can stand in place while aiming diagonally by holding R.

Level 1:
- Pretty easy for the most part, but you need to be surprisingly careful through the initial section.  Move forward very slowly, especially at the parts with the dogs, as if you run forward too fast you'll trigger a bunch of enemies at once.  Don't be afraid to bomb through these parts, you get a TON of bombs in this level.
- Stay way back on the first fire section, the fireballs can randomly shoot out pretty far and kill you.
- For the boss, spam double C missiles and use your bombs.  Be ready to jump over the small shot that he fires at you.

Level 2:
- You can hit enemies through barricades using the C missiles (yep, best weapon in the game.....)
- The "objective" things have different conditions for "opening up" to be hit.  One of them only opens when you're facing away from it.  One only opens when you let go of fire.
- I haven't figured out how to consistently avoid the boss's spinning, but it's not really that big of a deal, you'll at most lose a life or two.  You should feel free to use up your bombs on the boss, you won't need any for a while anyways.

Level 3:
- This level really requires practice.  The gunner guys in the first half are bound to kill you unless you know ahead of time where they are, so be sure to memorize where they spawn.
- The helicopter/drill miniboss thing is annoying to fight without C missiles, but shouldn't be that dangerous, just play it safe.  When it dies, be sure to jump off as soon as you can and keep jumping, you can randomly get snagged and die off of the bottom of the screen.
- Right after that, stay to the right side of the screen and shoot diagonally down+left to hit 3 missiles, then move left and jump up, and get ready to collect the C missile drop.
- For the boring autoscrolling wall climb section, just climb up as far as possible every time he takes a step, and avoid the missiles.  Don't try to shoot them down, it'll just distract you (and slow the game down).
- The wall-mounted drill boss is REALLY annoying, you have to practice this a number of times in order to get a feel for the rhythm of drawing him up and then dodging down.  Definitely watch some videos of this in action, and make sure to climb ALL the way up or down when dodging, as if you don't it will still kill you.
- After that, feel free to use a bomb to kill the 3 shooting enemies.  You can kill them without if you take them out one by one, but it's probably safer to just use a bomb.
- For the part with all the turrets, remember that the doorways spawn 4 enemies at a time before pausing.  There's one or two parts here where bombing is pretty useful as there are a bunch of turrets.
- For the two cyborg boss guys, hopefully you have two C missiles (if not, bomb for more DPS) -- best strategy is just to hang on the ceiling and fire away at them, but try to not be directly above either of them, because they can jump up on the ceiling.  If they do jump up, try to kill them as fast as possible.
- For the big guy in the wall, I like to start at the =bottom= of the room and go counter-clockwise.  This gives you enough time to dodge the lasers and be "in time" to catch the rotation of the flame.  You want to be RIGHT BEHIND the flame beam when it starts, otherwise you won't make it around.

Level 4:
- The trick for the first section is that the bikes that are flat (not tilted) are the ones will drop bombs.  So just stay in the back half of the stage, ignore the shooting ones, and jump over the bombs.
- Feel free to use bombs through any section that gives you issues here, like the gray dude miniboss that climbs all over the place.  Better to use a bomb and keep a good weapon than to die and lose it.
- The end boss where you're hanging onto the missiles -- use up all your bombs.  If nothing else, you'll kill it that way.

Level 5:
- I like to start at the top left here, as even if I have no weapons, it's easy to kill that objective right away to get the C missiles.
- In general just proceed carefully and take your time.  Don't try to actually cross any of the bridges as they all explode.
- For the swirly sand, you need to DOUBLE TAP the L button to spin faster against the spin direction.
- Against the boss, you really want to have double Cs if at all possible, it really really counts against this one.  Spam both of them, but be careful not to go too close, as if you do you could accidentally move into it when the sand starts moving.
- Again, when the stand starts moving, you need to double-tap the L button to keep up the rotation.
- If you lose your weapons, you can probably try to kill the arm thing to pick up another one (??)

Level 6:
- After the very first miniboss, in the run and gun section with the shooting segments inside the wall, I'd recommend using a bomb, it's easy to die there and it makes things a lot easier.
- For the infinitely-spawning-facehuggers boss, use a bomb and try to gun down the pods quickly.  If you gun down the bottom two pods quickly, life will be a lot easier, as you'll only have to worry about dodging/shooting the bugs that jump down from the ceiling (from the back egg).  If you only have the machinegun, use bombs, and hold R to aim diagonally upwards without moving.
- For the boss that charges at you, bomb and unload into his face, but as you're dodging all of the falling bullets, be ready to jump over the beam that he shoots.  He shoots it pretty much at the end of all the falling bullets, so don't get caught off guard!
- After that you get one C missile -- do NOT lose this.
- For the gargoyle boss, just be sure not to die with your c missile selected.  Deaths are fine, using bombs for his first phase is completely ok.  Just do not die with c missile selected.  Keep your weapon!  For his second (teleporting) phase, just make sure you always move after he teleports, it's easy to dodge.
- For the boss with the two heads, kill one side's head as fast as possible.  For the other one, if it does the long reaching pattern, you can jump to force it to arc around you.  Otherwise this part shouldn't be that hard.  Feel free to use bombs if you ever get in a tight spot, as you won't really need them that much against the next section.
- For the brain boss, learn the "safe spot" trick with the 3-section rock tumbling variation and always aim to get that one.  It lets you easily unload a ton of damage into him safely by crouching with your face right up next to the brain.
- If you miss that variation and get one of the adjacent ones, they are both pretty harmless too.  One of them you get surrounded by balls which you just need to shoot down (use a bomb if you have no good weapons).  For the other one you just need to dodge the brain's orbiting projectiles (easy) while shooting.  If you kill all of the projectiles, you don't need to dodge at all.
- Obvious, but for the final escape, use your bombs!  Be sure to avoid accidentally jumping down to your death while trying to aim downwards.  If this section of the fight goes long, you'll have to dodge not only his ram attacks, but his left and right arm sweeps as well.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Band to the Band Room, Friendsgiving, etc.

Back to the band room....once again...

Last Thursday I went back to go see the marching band kids at their last night rehearsal.  I've been trying to stop by every year (assuming I remember) for quite a few years now.  I don't quite remember how I felt the last time I visited, but I feel like nowadays my feelings towards it have been changing a bit.

I was a bit surprised at how positive everything felt -- I guess I do get to see them pretty much at the top of their game, so it makes sense, but visiting again this year, I felt a lot more....how do I say...."at ease"?  I haven't had one of those nightmares in a while now, so perhaps this is another step on my road towards coming to peace with that part of my life.

Seems that they really have a good group this year.  It's of course impossible to really judge as an outsider, but they seem to have their act together way more than we did, during that era when I was the head drum major because "I had to".  The isolation I felt contrasts so starkly with what I saw from this group.  Not claiming that I could have even connected with other people if I had the opportunity, but nevertheless, it really did strike me seeing them and thinking "wow, things are....so much better".  I guess I felt a slight bit of jealousy, but more just a sense of peace, knowing that this thing I loved is no longer a thing of suffering.

Friendsgiving dinner was a success!

We made a lot of yummy food, including sous vide bbq pork ribs and lamb riblets, furikake butter toast, brussels sprouts with shallots and bacon, corn, lamb flank steak, enoki mushrooms, ants climbing a tree, pumpkin pie, and apple crumble.

There were a few stressful moments including a point when I realized midway that I was using the wrong sous vide temperature, but despite the minor mishaps everything went AOK.  Woo~

I've been feeling better this week.  The past couple of weeks have been a bit busy, and slightly stressful at times -- moreover, they've just kind of been really draining socially, especially dance-wise, and I definitely hit multiple points where I just needed to stop and just not be around anyone for a bit.  That plus some anxiety and insecurity issues which were really bothering me throughout...

I'm basically back in business now, it feels like, which is great.  It was pretty cool hearing the rain pouring outside today actually, though the wind sounded pretty crazy.  Hopefully I don't get soaked tomorrow.

There's still work to do, of course -- I've got less than a week left to do my next Monthlies album cover, and then I'm doing some other pixel art commissions....plus making sure I get all the xmas stuff taken care of...yeah, you can bet there's never an idle moment in my life.

Randomly decided to play a bunch of ranked Puyo Puyo Tetris, which went well.  I'm at the point now where I can actually play the Puyo side pretty decently now, woo!  The Puyo vs Puyo matches actually are pretty fun, it's a nice race to see who can successfully build a nice chain first and trigger it successfully while being careful of early harassments.  The Puyo vs Tetris matchup still feels really strange though, I feel like I try to climb the wall and build a transition as fast as I can but sometimes it just gets covered up before I can trigger anything.  Climbing column 1 seems like it ought to be a good option as it means you can receive some garbage and be OK, but maybe GTR would be faster to set off?  Not really sure.  Somehow as long as you continue to just set off 3-chains it seems like you more or less do alright, so it's really testing my ability to improvise.  It's a weird matchup for sure.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Confidence comes from thinking that you'll succeed
Security comes from knowing it
Bravery comes from accepting that you might fail
and Maturity comes from having done it all before

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Steven Universe Movie (mostly about the ending)

Thought it would be an opportune time to go and watch the Steven Universe movie, which first aired about 2.5 months ago.  You might think that's a long while, until you realize that I'm not yet done watching the Smash documentary, which came out in 2013.......and if you think that's bad, .....

The movie had relatively good pacing and was pretty enjoyable.  Though it explored some different themes, the crux of the movie ended up being about Spinel, of course.

[Spoilers I guess]

I don't think it would surprise anyone to hear that the ending of the movie would involve redemption for Spinel.  This is a villain character that is portrayed at first as totally maniacal, then tragic once you learn about her trauma and why she came to be this way.  Steven Universe is very similar to Undertale in the sense that the longer you go, the more you get used to the way that the stories go, trying to achieve that "harmonious ending" and resolution of conflict through whatever means possible.  It's not like the ending was ever quite in that much doubt, but the real question is how to get there, because that's really the important part, and the thing we can take away from the story.

In the case of Spinel, I think I'm on board with the general idea of her redemption, but the execution fell a bit flat for me.  To be fair, in the process of this redemption we basically have to do a 180-degree turn from "I am so freaking upset that I literally want to kill you" to "I'm feeling better and we can have a happy ending now" and that's probably =always= going to be very difficult to portray in a story like this, much less the climax of an animated film.  In real life these things take =time= and are often really messy.  The road to recovery is a slippery slope and regardless of whether it's depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or any number of things, I'd wager that it's a very real struggle with no real "turning point".

Spinel's turning point in the film comes right after she reaches the peak of her "tantrum" I guess, as she's trying to pound Steven's shield into smithereens, she ends up breaking down, admitting her own feelings of worthlessness, and then questioning why she is so angry and trying to harm so much.

It's at this point that the ship that Spinel and Steven are standing on explodes and we go from a very tense and meaningful emotional moment (she just "broke"), to a suspenseful action moment where there's a large explosion and we're left wondering whether the two are physically OK.

I think this is the part of the execution that I have the most mixed feelings with.  I understand that a lot of the time in Steven Universe (as well as other shows) character growth, development, and emotional mood is accentuated by music and action and I think the show, even this movie pulled that off wonderfully at many other points, ...but this one didn't really do it for me; I think it really sort of broke the moment.

After the dust settles it seems that everything and everyone is OK and Spinel starts apologizing, etc.  In other words we're now into the resolution phase of the ending and everything is sort of downhill from there.  But it left me unsatisfied because I feel like the whole time we were going through Spinel's conflict it was leading up to some sort of big emotional resolution, and instead we got a big physical explosion.  In other words, it feels like in this case the emotional development got =replaced= by the action rather than being supplemented by it.  We didn't get to see some sort of very meaningful moment where for example, Steven asks Spinel how she feels or what she really wants, or tells her that he thought their times together were actually fun, or where Steven asks Spinel if they can be friends, or I don't know, =something=.  I needed =something= there.

Imagine this alternate version of the story instead: Spinel's feelings of frustration and worthlessness mount to a peak, and seeing that even her plans to get rid of Steven/etc are completely failing, and imagining that not even Steven cares about her, she grabs the Rejuvenator scythe (or similar) in a final act of despair and prepares to use it directly on herself again, claiming that "the world is better off without her" (or that she's better off being a goofy ignorant entertainer, rather than the way she is now which is just depressed and worthless).  But before she can do so, Steven stops her, and hugs her, telling her that he's so sorry for everything she's been through / she doesn't need to change, she's fine the way she is / he doesn't want to lose his friend.

Actual details of the execution aside, I feel like:
- I feel like this sort of despair makes sense for a character who could be read as being symbolic of mental trauma
- If you think about Spinel's emotional arc, she probably feels like nobody in the world loves her -- she was abandoned by Pink Diamond, and even when she started to hang out with Steven she found that he already had all of these other close bonds and friendships that made her feel left out.  There is almost no real compassion shown to Spinel throughout the entire movie, even from Steven himself (!), and I think having that be the key moment in the resolution here would be a big emotional payoff in terms of sympathizing with Spinel and also show Steven's strength in that he can be compassionate when it matters.
- If we go back to the original ending of the movie, the ultimate resolution of Spinel's story is that she goes to serve as an entertainer for the Diamonds.  But I think that's kind of disingenuous to the process of recovery.  Spinel was in a place where she was very messed up and suffering a lot, and I don't think it's healthy for her to seek happiness by jumping straight into "people pleasing" mode again.  If I was Spinel, I would be wholly lacking self-worth and self-compassion after aeons of feeling rejected and unloved.  I understand that the idea behind this ending is to say "actually, we liked the old silly you just the way you used to be", but the thing is that the charming joking Mickey-Mouse Spinel is NOT the Spinel that we saw at the climax of the film.  At the climax of the film, we see a tear-streaked, manic Spinel who honestly probably would have tried to hurt herself after failing to hurt Steven.  By saying "you'll be loved!  All you have to do is just smile and joke around again!" you may as well be telling her "yeah we'd like you a lot more if you use the rejuvenator scythe to erase all of your personality and memories!"  So I think I'd rather see Spinel realize that even when she's feeling like crap, crying, and thinking to herself "I am a horrible person who can't be happy at all", she still deserves to be loved.  Because I have personally been in a spiral of depression many times before, and finding that self-compassion (difficult as it may be) and =allowing= myself to be not ok is I think really important.

Anyways that said I am hesitant to really critique something like this in this way because I feel like SU has a pretty good track record with a lot of other things, but I guess a critique is sort of what this is.  I can't pretend to know what a better ending would look like exactly, but I felt like the one that exists isn't the one I was looking for.

At the same time I think that through the whole development arc of the movie I felt like they did a wonderful job with Spinel's character, turning her from really unlikable and annoying to a character that you could genuinely care about and root for.  That is really tough to do so I think that deserves some props.

Pretty much every time I write a critique about a story of some sort, I feel like it's always about the ending...  I wrote about the ending of Yuri on Ice I remember, and a lot of the recent things that I've seen, I also have critiques about endings.  Ne Zha for example, came really close but screwed just a few things up that it could have done a lot better.  And I could talk about how the ending of Wreck It Ralph 1 was dang amazing but the ending of Wreck It Ralph 2 wasn't.  I could talk about how the ending of Shigatsu no Lion I think was really well done despite not that much happening at all in the last episode.

Endings are hard, but I do really appreciate a well-done ending.  As an artist -- no, simply a consumer of stories, I think I'm beginning to have more strong opinions on these sorts of things.

Edit: and yeah, I get that the whole breaking apart of the ship is probably supposed to be representative of an emotional breaking point and catharsis, but it didn't really do it for me -- compare this to what happened in Kyoukai no Kanata for example, which really pulled that part off well.

Edit2: Sangatsu no Lion not Shigtasu omg....those two confusing shows -_-

Edit3: As a friend pointed out, Spinel didn't need to be "rescued" in this way and I think seeing things from a bigger perspective, I don't have any problem with how her arc got resolved, I think my only real issue now is the execution and pacing, and how I got pulled out of the moment thinking about her spaceship.  But I think the basic idea of what happens is totally fine!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Well, that's enough of that.


I know what this feeling is...I recognize it.  And it's not a good one.  I guess we're not out of the woods yet.  The feeling that "something is wrong".  It's been a while since I've felt it last, and I really don't like it.  But I guess the only thing to do about it is to stay calm, and reaffirm myself.  That the me of now is OK, and the me of tomorrow can be even better if I want.  That it's ok to feel worthless, but to remind yourself that you are not.  And to prove that to yourself.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

V thrff guvf jubyr ohfvarff unf ng yrnfg tbggra zr oybttvat jvgu n yvggyr zber erthynevgl.  Abguvat dhvgr yvxr gelvat gb or gur punatr gung lbh'q jvfu gb frr, rira vs lbh xabj vg jba'g rssrpg nal punatr va gur raq.

Yvfgyrff avtugf jurer V ubcr V pna pnyz zl orngvat urneg naq erfg n juvyr.  V srry n yvtug nakvbhfarff va zl purfg, ohg vg'f abg sebz nalguvat bhg bs gur beqvanel, V'z snveyl fher.  Fvzcyl orpnhfr V tbg guebja bss zl eulguz, ohg V guvax gung'f bxnl.

Fvapr V unir orra srryvat abg ng n uhaqerq creprag naq jvgu n urnqnpur sbe zbfg bs gur qnl, V jnf hapregnva jurgure V jbhyq znxr vg gb Qnaproernx be abg, ohg V raqrq hc znxvat vg bhg, jvgu n pregnva qrgrezvangvba gb npghnyyl jbex ba vzcebivat zlfrys.  V jnf noyr gb svther bhg fbzr fcrpvsvp guvatf gb gel naq jbex ba, juvpu sryg avpr.  V zragvbarq rneyvre gung V unir zbfgyl orra va cerfreingvba zbqr erpragyl, ohg V qb nqzvg vg srryf avpr univat fbzrguvat gb npgviryl jbex gbjneqf.

V'ir orra gelvat gb qb zbfg bs zl kznf fubccvat bayvar guvf lrne -- sbe gubfr tvsgf gung V pna'g whfg chyy sebz zl fgnfu, V zrna -- naq vg'f orra jbexvat bhg snveyl jryy.  Nf hfhny gur snzvyl tvsgf ner gur uneqrfg, rfcrpvnyyl jvgu gur ryqre zrzoref bs snzvyl vg orpbzrf zber bs n fvghngvba jurer lbh srry yvxr gurl arrq =yrff= guvatf va gurve yvsr engure guna zber.

Orra qbvat n ovg bs grpu pyrnahc erpragyl.  Gur zvtengvba sebz cPybhq gb Tbbtyr Qevir jrag snveyl fzbbguyl -- abg nyy bs zl flfgrzf ner zvtengrq lrg ohg sbe gur zbfg cneg vg frrzf yvxr V'z n terra yvtug sbe gung.  Gur bayl erznvavat guvatf gung arrq svthevat bhg ner sybjf sbe cubgb hcybnqf naq fperrafubg funevat, ohg V'z fher V'yy or noyr gb qrqhpr jungrire gur orfg cebprff vf.

V'ir nyfb svanyyl fgnegrq cbfgvat gb Vafgntenz, zbfgyl whfg 100k100 cvkry neg nyohz neg pbiref, fvapr V thrff gung vf abj zl pbafvfgrag zrqvhz bs ivfhny neg.  Znantvat nyy bs gur qvssrerag zrqvn fvgrf vf n pbafgnag punyyratr, jvgu zhfvp tbvat gb Onaqpnzc+LbhGhor+Fbhaqpybhq naq neg tbvat gb Gjvggre/Snprobbx/Snprobbx/Vafgntenz/QrivnagNeg abg gb zragvba inevbhf Fynpx naq Qvfpbeq cbfgvatf.  VSGGG ng yrnfg urycf n ovg jvgu gur pebffcbfgvat, ohg gurer'f bayl fb zhpu vg pna qb, hasbeghangryl.

Vg'f gur frnfba sbe fbhcf naq fcvpl sbbqf, lrg V unira'g ernyyl orra sbyybjvat guebhtu ba vg ng nyy.  Vg'f uneq gb fgbc snyyvat onpx ba gur byq gevrq-naq-gehr erpvcrf.  V'yy gel naq frr vs V pna vzzrefvba oyraqre hc fbzr gbzngb fbhc be fbzrguvat fbba.  V'yy unir gb frr jurgure V pna qb gur oyraqvat va n znfba wne be jurgure V arrq gb svaq n qvssrerag pbagnvare jvgu n orggre funcr.  V fubhyq nyfb qb fbzr fbeg bs fvpuhna sbbq gung'f abg zncb gbsh....rvgure fbzr fcvpl orrs be znlor cbnpurq puvpxra....??

Sevraqftvivat qvaare jvyy or guvf jrrxraq naq V'yy or pbbxvat sbe 8!  V'z rkpvgrq...

Gur avtug srryf obgu snzvyvne, pbzsbegvat, naq ybaryl nyy ng gur fnzr gvzr.  Yvfgravat gb n pbagrzcyngvir fbhaqfpncr, naq jvfuvat gung V jnf jvgu "lbh".  V qbhog V'yy or noyr gb trg zber qbar gbavtug, ohg creuncf V jvyy gel gb ng yrnfg gnxr pner bs fbzr jevgvat.

Gbzbeebj vf lrg nabgure qnl sbe hf nyy.


I stare into your eyes and I
am reminded of a time I thought would last forever
even though I know you will soon be gone

Monday, November 18, 2019

V cebzvfr guvf fvyyl ebg13 fghss jba'g tb ba sberire...

Ba gur cyhf fvqr V thrff V unir yrnearq gung cbfgvat va fvyyl pvcuregrkg naq pbzcynvavat nobhg guvatf qenjf crbcyr bhg bs gur jbbqjbex...

N ahzore bs crbcyr nfxrq jurgure V nz BX naq V nz!  Guvatf ner abg onq ng nyy qrfcvgr gur snpg gung V jnf n yvggyr qvfnccbvagrq ol n pregnva vagrenpgvba gung unccrarq.  Ohg V qvq jnag gb ng yrnfg fraq n cbvagrq zrffntr naq rkcerff zl qvfpbagragzrag, gung zhpu V jnagrq gb znxr pyrne.

V'z irel tengrshy sbe gur xvaq crbcyr jub ner jvyyvat gb xrrc zr tbbq pbzcnal rira va gur zvqfg bs na bgurejvfr-birejuryzvat raivebazrag.  V jnf srryvat dhvgr fbpvnyyl qenvarq n pbhcyr bs avtugf ntb ohg fbzr avpr crbcyr ernyyl urycrq ghea vg nebhaq.

V npghnyyl tbg fbzr tbbq cebqhpgvivgl va ba Fngheqnl ohg unir orra srryvat n ovg ynpxyhfgre zber erpragyl -- V nz nyzbfg pregnva gung guvf vf culfvbybtvpny engure guna zragny gubhtu, nf V nyfb unq n ybat-ynfgvat urnqnpur nzbat bgure zvabe flzcgbzf, fb whfg zrnaf vg'f gvzr gb erfg hc n ovg vs V pna.

V'yy or grfgvat bhg gur Tbbtyr Qevir ncc nf n ercynprzrag gb cPybhq, nf V guvax gung jvyy vagrtengr naq jbex orggre sbe n ahzore bs guvatf.  Vg'yy zrna punatvat nebhaq n pbhcyr bs zl heyf naq fhpu, ohg gung'f abguvat arj ernyyl.

Unq na vqrn gb znxr crefbanyvmrq ohfvarff pneqf sbe zl Njrfbzr Yvfg, znlor rira jvgu DE pbqrf.  Bs pbhefr unys gur crbcyr ba guvf yvfg ner crbcyr jubz V cebonoyl pbhyqa'g ernpu rira vs V jnagrq gb, ohg vg'f fgvyy cebonoyl n sha yvggyr vqrn gung V znl trg nebhaq gb fbzrqnl, znlor arkg Puevfgznf be fbzrguvat yvxr gung.

Nf lbh pna cebonoyl vzntvar, V unir abg orra chggvat pbafpvbhf rssbeg vagb vzcebivat ng cnegare qnapr sbe dhvgr fbzr gvzr, juvpu V guvax vf cerggl haqrefgnaqnoyr tvira gung V'z va zber bs n erpbirel zbqr evtug abj.  V jbhyq yvxr gb gel gb vzcebir, gbb, ohg ng gur fnzr gvzr jvyy abg sbepr vg vs V nz abg va n fgngr bs zvaq jurer vg znxrf frafr.

Fhcre Zrgebvq Enaqbzvmre sha

V'ir orra qryivat vagb gur jbeyq bs Fhcre Zrgebvq enaqbzvmre...juvyr vg qbrfa'g frrz gb or dhvgr gur fnzr ornfg nf YggC enaqbzvmre, V qb ybir Fhcre Zrgebvq (jub qbrfa'g?), naq vg'f orra sha ehaavat guebhtu fbzr grfg frrqf whfg gb cenpgvpr trareny ebhgvat naq zbirzrag guebhtu gur ebbzf, nf jryy nf cvpx hc fbzr gevpxf urer naq gurer.

V'ir cynlrq guebhtu gjb frrqf fb sne, gubhtu V qvqa'g gnxr gurz nyy gur jnl guebhtu Gbhevna (fubhyq cebonoyl npghnyyl cenpgvpr gung cneg...).  Gurer ner n pbhcyr bs guvatf gung V qrsvavgryl arrq n gba bs jbex ba, abgnoyl nal obff svtug gung vf abg evqyrl (evqyrl ba gur bgure unaq, vf n cvrpr bs pnxr nsgre cenpgvpvat EOB...).  Cunagbba va cnegvphyne...

Gur frpbaq frrq gung V cynlrq jnf cerggl rivy...

V jnf gnxvat vg rnfl naq trggvat n punapr gb cenpgvpr fbzr arj grpuavdhrf fhpu nf trggvat gb kenl jvgubhg tenccyr ornz, naq rira gelvat sbe PJW (V pbhyqa'g trg gur frghc ehaavat sebz bhgfvqr gur ebbz gb jbex...ohg V tbg vg gb jbex jura frggvat hc sebz vafvqr gur ebbz).  Ohg V unq ab fcrrq obbfgre, ab vpr ornz, naq ab tenivgl fhvg be inevn be fcnpr whzc, rira nsgre pyrnevat bhg xenvq, oevafgne, hccre abesnve (vapyhqvat gur fgnaqneq uryy ehaf), tnhagyrg, rgp...

Gur bayl znwbef V unq jrer tenccyr ornz, fcevat onyy, uv-whzc, fperj nggnpx, obzof, kenl, jnir ornz, naq cynfzn ornz.

Ab inevn zrnaf ybjre abesnve vf n ab-tb naq ab tenivgl/vpr/fcrrq zrnaf znevqvn vf vzcbffvoyr rvgure fb V tb gb jerpxrq fuvc naq gur bayl guvat gurer vf tenivgl fhvg...

Fb gung'f svar, gung zrnaf znevqvn vf arkg.  Ohg gurer'f bayl na rgnax ng znzn ghegyr.  Bx, fb gura V tb gb purpx gur znevqvn erfreir gnax, ohg gung'f nyfb abguvat...

Gheaf bhg vpr ornz vf nyy gur jnl bire ng Fcevat onyy, fb lbhe gjb pubvprf urer ner gb tb nyy gur jnl gurer, qrny jvgu whzcvat bhg bs gur fnaq naq gur jnvg sbe gur funxgbby gb pyrne njnl nyyyyyyy gur fnaq naq gura teno vpr ornz (fybjjjjj), be trg gb obgjbba ol qbvat n pelfgny synfu pyvc (v guvax?) naq whfg arire trg vpr ornz.  Furrfu....

Gur rgnax nsgre obgjbba vf inevn, naq gura nsgre orngvat qenltba lbh trg fcrrq obbfgre.  V qvqa'g npghnyyl xabj guvf hagvy gbqnl, ohg lbh pna rfpncr sebz qenltba'f ebbz jvgu whfg tenivgl fhvg rira jvgubhg uvtuwhzc be na vasvavgr obzo whzc nf ybat nf lbh unir fcrrq obbfgre...ohg lrnu, V thrff vs vafgrnq bs fcrrq obbfgre lbh tbg n enaqbz erfreir gnax be fbzrguvat, lbh'q unir gb VOW be fcevatonyywhzc lbhe jnl bhg.  Furrfu.

Gheaf bhg gung punetr ornz vf nsgre evqyrl naq fcnpr whzc vf ng fperj nggnpx, ohg lrnu...univat vpr ornz or ng fcevat onyy naq fcrrq obbfgre or ng qenltba vf whfg cnvashy...

Fbzrguvat ryfr V qvqa'g ernyvmr hagvy gbqnl vf gung lbh pna npghnyyl trg vagb gur fcevat onyy ebbz hfvat fcevat onyy + na vow rira vs lbh qba'g unir uv whzc obbgf.  Fb gurbergvpnyyl gurer pbhyq cebonoyl unir orra n zber evqvphybhf irefvba bs guvf frrq jurer uv whzc obbgf ner va ybjre abesnve be fbzrguvat naq lbh whfg unir gb VOW naq/be fcevatonyywhzc lbhe jnl rireljurer.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Guvf jubyr guvat qbrf znxr zr guvax ntnva, gubhtu, nobhg jurgure zl oybt vf nppbzcyvfuvat jung V'q yvxr vg gb.  V xabj ol EBG13-rapbqvat gurfr cbfgf yvxr guvf V'z cebonoyl whfg ybfvat gur yvggyr ernqrefuvc gung V rira unq va gur svefg cynpr, ohg url, znlor fbzr bs lbh bhg gurer ner npghnyyl fgvyy gnxvat gur rssbeg gb ernq guvf?

V'ir nyjnlf ubcrq gung ol xrrcvat zl oybttvat obgu crefbany naq bcra V pbhyq perngr n "erny" fcnpr va gur zvqfg bs gur qernel fbpvny zrqvn fgernz gung rirelbar vf fb rntre gb wbva vagb naq cynl nybat jvgu.  V qba'g zrna "erny" nf va "lbh qnea byq xvqf naq lbhe vagrearg naq fbpvny zrqvn, onpx va zl qnl oynuoynuoynu", jung V zrna gb fnl ernyyl vf gung fbpvny zrqvn pbagrag vf whfg...qbjaevtug obevat abjnqnlf.  V'ir fnvq guvf orsber gbb, ohg qbrf vg ERNYYL oevat zr gung zhpu inyhr gb frr crbcyr funevat zrzrf, sbbq cubgbf, zber zrzrf, png ivqrbf, naq cvpgherf sebz cynprf gung gurl'ir ivfvgrq?  Gb urne gurz pbzcynvavat nobhg gur yngrfg snqf, ngebpvgvrf be "ngebpvgvrf"?  Ab...........

V ubarfgyl trg zber inyhr bhg bs gjvggre guna snprobbx naq gung vf.....ernyyl fnq, V zrna pbzr ba, =gjvggre=?  Vg'f onfvpnyyl nyy znexrgvat ba gurer naq fgvyy gung vf jnl zber vagrerfgvat gb zr guna gur "crefbany" pbagrag gung crbcyr cbfg ba fbpvny zrqvn orpnhfr ng gur raq bs gur qnl abar bs vg vf "crefbany" ng nyy.  Jura jnf gur ynfg gvzr lbh urneq fbzrbar gnyx nobhg fbzrguvat erny?  Cebonoyl gur bayl guvat bs erny "inyhr" gung V'ir frra ba gurer vf cbfgvatf sebz sevraqf jub nvz gb xrrc hf vasbezrq bs pheerag cerffvat vffhrf va fbpvrgl (UX.......), ohg gung'f abg jung V JNAG bhg bs fbpvny zrqvn.  V qba'g jnag fbpvny zrqvn gb or n arjfcncre, abe qb V jnag vg gb whfg or n znexrgcynpr bs nqf.  V'q yvxr vg gb or sbe.....lbh xabj.......fbpvnyvmvat...............

Ohg nynf, gung ren vf YBAT tbar, naq abobql haqrefgnaqf ubj gb pbaarpg bayvar nalzber.

Xhqbf gb gubfr bs lbh jub ner fgvyy oenir rabhtu gb rkcerff gurzfryirf ubarfgyl, naq xhqbf gb gubfr bs lbh jub ner yrtvgvzngryl perngvat gurve bja pbagrag vafgrnq bs whfg ercbfgvat ercbfgvat ercbfgvat.  Jura vg unccraf, vg'f n enl bs ubcr va gur zvqfg bs gur vapernfvatyl oneera jnfgrynaq gung vf bhe bayvar fcnpr.  Ohg V thrff abobql ernyyl pnerf; V qba'g rira rkcrpg nalobql gb obgure ernqvat guvf naljnlf, orpnhfr vg'f n srj rkgen pyvpxf, naq gung'f nyjnlf orra gbb zhpu sbe crbcyr gb obgure jvgu.

You are not welcome

I've been blogging for 15 years and never have I have never felt threatened to shut my blog down until now.  I won't, of course, I'm better than that, but don't think for a second that I won't resort to some drastic measures to defend myself.

The sad thing is that I was actually doing just fine in pretty much all respects until a certain individual decided to try and be "helpful".  I've been fortunate enough to be able to continue doing what I believe in and expressing myself the way that makes me happy, not having to deal with trolls, spam, or malicious intent, despite being brave enough to post about things that most people would never speak up about.  And then this person comes along and just can't keep their mouth shut despite having the unexpected (and unintended) privilege of being a reader.  In the end the biggest threat to my blog came not from malicious intent but from plain stupidity.

This is not just a warning.  This is me shutting the door, because you were never welcome here in the first place.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Suppose I should do another update.  I may not post often, but you can bet your butt that I still come back to it again and again...as I do with everything in life.  Everything.

We've got non-personal advertising stuff, game stuff, and life stuff to go over.

On Wattam finally getting released

Wattam, the crazy game I worked on for 2 years at Funomena, finally has a release date and will be coming out for PC and PS4 this December on 12/17, just in time for the holiday season.

You can pre-order it now with a 15% discount, just go to http://www.funomena.com/wattamgame

Wattam is not really a normal game...in fact it's abnormal in a crazy way that you kind of just have to play.  This game has been a LONG time coming and as one of the engineers on the small team that brought it all together I worked on quite a lot of it directly.  I hope that you'll give it a try, maybe even with a friend with 2-player co-op for double the laughs and fun.

On Day of the Devs and Chicory

I stopped by "Day of the Devs", an indie game event in SF which I was also at 2 years ago when I was first joining up with the Wattam team.  Back then 2 years ago I believe both Rain World and Hollow Knight were exhibiting there, along with a number of other games of course.

This time around my main focus was on Chicory, a charming little game by the same developer of Wandersong (that one game about a singing bard):

I got to play the little demo build of Chicory and it basically ended up hitting most of the notes that I expected it to (which is great!).  It's got a fun and playful energy and looks to be a world that will make you smile as you go around and meet its inhabitants.

I also ran into quite the assortment of random people at Day of the Devs...I brought a pair of glowsticks in case there was some apt music playing and indeed, there was at one point, so I did some freehand....literally within the next 15 minutes I got recognized by like 4 separate people whom I had no idea would be there......so funny haha.

On the upcoming "Fusion" album

I've got a new album coming out in just a bit!

This is a 4-track collaboration EP between me and A-zu-ra, with whom I've also worked with in the past on "Twin Wings".  We've had this music finished for quite some time and were just waiting on a good album art design to put everything out, so I'm happy that it's finally getting a release.  It's been quite a while since I've put out any actual high quality original music, so I hope you guys like this one.

On Super Punch Out

Super Punch Out playthrough is complete!  It wasn't too bad at all, honestly, especially after watching some guides.  The Special Circuit opponents took some getting used to, but weren't crazy difficult once you got the hang of it.  I didn't end up getting a 4-0 on the special circuit, but didn't really bother, as I'm sure I could, just a matter of trying it one or two more times.  Anyways, calling that game done!

On Super Metroid

My "Reverse Boss Order" run in Super Metroid continues, and I've got into the most exciting segment -- Lower Norfair!  I have pretty much the =maximum= amount of energy tanks, reserve tanks, and super missiles/ammo that you can reasonable have before going in there, so things are definitely on the easy side, especially now that there is so much more information out there on how to optimize movement through rooms as well as the Ridley fight.

It's even easier than it was the last time I was doing an RBO run, since I have a couple of extra items: I have the botwoon energy tank, and also the maridia reserve tank, which definitely help.  The maridia reserve tank is quite tricky to get without gravity suit as you need to do some really tight underwater walljumps, but I eventually managed to get it.

Anyways, I did the lava dive (though I failed the bounceball in that room, d'oh), did my save, and went through the first part of lower norfair, stopping by to get screw attack and get the supers from the golden torizo room as well as farm up a bunch of ammo.  Went through the Worst Room In The Game (yes, it's actually called that), grabbed the energy tank, went down and saved.

I've now been practicing the Ridley fight a bunch and I have to say it's actually....way easier than I remembered it to be, mainly because of ShinyZeni's great tutorial on the ridley fight, covering ridley's AI as well as how to manipulate his pogo attack, and how to set up a wave beam X-factor right at the beginning of the fight to do a bunch of damage up front.

I've got so much energy and ammo to spare that besides the ridley fight itself, the rest of this section is actually not that hard at all, I could probably even do an extra crystal flash if I really wanted to.  I feel like I'll probably get this segment on one of my first tries if nothing too bad goes wrong.  I think the main danger is ridley doing something unexpected and running into me during the fight, or failing to get grabbed properly by ridley.

I've been watching some Super Metroid randomizer videos and it's something I'm actually considering getting into, maybe not super seriously but at least to some degree, at least just trying it.  Now that I've refamiliarized myself with a lot of the movement stuff and the general layout of Zebes, it's probably a great time to give it another try...

On Dance

Dance has been taking a bit of a backseat ever since I had a "bad experience" at a certain dance event -- not that anything actually went wrong, just I got put in a really bad mood unfortunately.  I'll be bouncing back from it I'm sure, but I wanted to just take it easy for a while.  I didn't want to write about it at the time, but it's been long enough now that I figured it can't really hurt anymore.  It ended up putting me back into the mindset I had while I was DM, something which hasn't really happened in a long time.  That's not a place that I want to be in.

I did some glowsticking the other week, that was fun.  As always, it's hard to improve, but practice is practice.  I wish I could say that I was invested in improving in dance in general (solo and/or partner alike) at the moment, but as I'll explain later, now is not the time for it.

Sayuri made an appearance at dance too, that was really interesting and I am actually really grateful for her presence there.  It has been a long time...too long, perhaps.  But she is not gone, not gone I don't think.

There is another dance this Saturday...against perhaps my better judgment I am cautiously hoping to be more outgoing again for this.  But we will see if that ends up playing out, or whether I will need to just again retreat to safety.  There's not that much point in forcing it.  But I also know that there is light amidst the shadows.

On Life

I hit a bit of a hitch lately, been bothered by something that was nagging at me in the background until finally I figured out what it was.  It's good that I figured it out, but doesn't quite make it suck any less lol.  I spent a good chunk of today in recovery mode giving myself the luxury of taking it easy and focusing on just doing whatever I needed to feel OK.  Mainly taking a long bath, which was nice haha.

I'll be bouncing back from this, too, but there's no need to rush it.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Ludum Dare 45 voting ended, and my game got 3rd place, as well as 1st in audio, 3rd in fun, and actually really high scores in theme (11th), graphics (12th), and mood (15th).  That graphics score is particularly impressive and I think is quite appropriate considering how much of a level-up I've had in my artwork over these years.  The rankings are always a crapshoot anyways, but it's nice to know that people enjoyed the game regardless.

The total number of LD submissions was about the same as last time, which is nice to see.  As some of you may know LD is...not exactly the greatest-run event in the world, but it serves its purpose "well enough", which I've written about before.  For now LD somewhat seems to be the defacto large yet casual event to do, though I see there are some other jams hosted on itch.io that are gaining traction, such as the Game Maker's Toolkit Jam which had 2,629 entries this year, pretty much the same as LD.  I guess considering that LD is down to two events per year instead of three, I could theoretically look into doing either that or Global Game Jam as well.  But that's something I'll have to play by ear, really.  (if anything I should be putting that time into Rhythm Quest lolol)

I'm finally nearing the end of my Inktober letters with only one more to go...hoping that next month will be slightly less busy as a result, but I'm also not really holding my breath, haha.  Phew.....

In gaming news, I've been playing a few different things here and there.  I'm working my way through some random SNES games:

- I played through and finished Super Earth Defense Force, a short side-scrolling space shoot-em-up that lets you choose a weapon type to equip for each stage.  The game was sort of a middle ground in terms of difficulty (I played on normal mode), but I found on the last stage in particular that I relied sort of heavily on slowdown to make some of the attacks easier to dodge.  Which was interesting because it meant choosing specific weapons that caused additional slowdown while they fire...  in the end it all worked out though.

- Making my way through Super Punch Out, currently going through the World Circuit.  I watched a few guides for the rest of the fights, but we'll see how hard everything ends up actually being.  I don't think the World Circuit will take a ton more tries, but the Special Circuit might...

- Continuing to gather more items for my Super Metroid RBO run.  I'm currently in Maridia and will probably try to kill Botwoon for an extra energy tank.  This is something I don't think I did in my previous console-conditions RBO run, so theoretically it will make things that much easier.

I've randomly been playing Risk of Rain 2 once in a while, but not super often, and still practicing some Puyo chains, though I don't really know what for besides the fact that it's fun.

I had another go at cooking Gumbo -- and got a lot closer this time!  This time around I did a "wet" roux in the oven -- but doing the roux dry in the oven would probably work ok as well.  I think being a little conservative with the darkness of the roux is a good idea as it darkens up slightly when it's being incorporated.  I sort of "broke" my roux whilst working with it and trying to incorporate it though, will have to try once again next time, as well as allowing for bunch of time for it all to simmer.  I will say that it's getting closer for sure -- this batch in particular started to taste better the next day.

Will be hopefully doing some other cooking experiments as well.  I forgot to mention, but I ended up giving a one-pot salmon chowder a try.  It worked well enough, though I added WAY too much dill, which was kind of unfortunate.  Either way I don't think it's really a keeper though, I feel like the salmon would have been much better suited for something different and the chowder itself was.....ok.  Cream/milk based dishes are a little hard for me I think, I don't really have any in my regular rotation at all (I don't actually like milk straight out).  I remember trying a seafood baked rice/doria recipe as well which was....ok.  That one is probably a little more promising than this one, though also a little more work.  But yeah, I don't think the salmon chowder recipe is a keeper, which is unfortunate.  Maybe I'll try an instant pot clam chowder at some point?  Speaking of salmon, I watched a video that advocated for a slow-baked salmon fillet, so that's actually something I'd maybe like to try, as a sort of almost-sous-vide dry cooking method.  Aside from that, I'm probably going to try doing some sous vide lamb riblets...

I have really been enjoying the company of the meowmies lately.  I didn't see them for like a whole week, but got to visit them last night, which was really nice.

Things to do:...

- One more Inktober letter
- Work on music...I've been slacking
- 4-wide Trainer needs to get finished
- Post-compo easter eggs for Unlock Everything??
- Music.....I really need to work on more music...
- I haven't done any glowsticking for a while either...
- Xmas shopping...
- ...

On the plus side, the (easier) arcade machine project has been completed!  The old pac-man arcade thingamajig is now in working condition and even has a better interface and all that.  Unfortunately the original system was pretty much kaput despite best efforts to repair it, but it's now got a RPI running RetroPie and I put a bunch more interesting games on there as well.  Probably spent a bit TOO much time on that, but it was fun sort of raising that old piece of junk back from the dead and giving it some actual purpose.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

If you had never left...

where would I be now?

I found this scrawled in my drafts folder.  A single thought, lingering from a state of mind that is no more.  Yet reading it again, I am certain of what I was feeling at the time.  And I know I'll feel that way again sometime.  I always do.  For there are some things that I cannot, would not, will not escape.

Sleepless nights
Both liberating and lonesome
I relish in the stillness of these moments
Yet still wish that I could be with you

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Friday, October 25, 2019

I want to make an exploration game where the reward for exploring is simply to find different music.

To all of my fellow creators out there,
you are all amazing.
Your work inspires me to continue searching, exploring, and making everything I can dream of.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Inktober progress: 20/31 Xmas letters done so far...We're almost 2/3rds of the way there!

Should be able to do it...there are a couple of things I need to be aware of along the way though:

- Have another birthday letter to write (one that I sorta missed, too...)
- I've only got a week and a half left in the month and still need to do my monthly pixel art album cover...
- Some of the letters that I haven't done yet are the hard ones...one that needs to be written in Japanese, and three that I imagine will be quite on the longer side.

But hey, progress is progress.  Even more than that, I started up my writeups on Unlock Everything, my Ludum Dare 45 entry.  You can read the first one at https://ddrkirby.com/articles/shader-based-transitions/shader-based-transitions.html.  I also reorganized my website a bit - you'll notice there's an entire tab for articles (https://ddrkirby.com/articles/articles.html) where I've moved all of my post-mortems to.

I haven't forgotten about all of the other things I need to do either...haha.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

It's always a really fascinating feeling, seeing people from other countries interacting with your work.  The communication barrier is there, yet somehow you still created something that someone else interacted with and shared.  Whenever it happens, a part of me feels the need to reach out to these people, to tell them a thanks, and to make my presence known as a person.  But at the same time, I know that it's not necessary.  For the work itself is already a form of communication alone.  You perhaps can't judge a creator solely by their works, but that doesn't make them any less valid a form of expressing things.  I think that's why I always feel a very interesting respect and connection with other creators whose works connect with me in the same way that I'd like my works to connect with people.  Even though we may be on different wavelengths, it still gives me the feeling that I share a commonality with these other creators.  It's a vague feeling of understanding, to have started from maybe-wildly-different places yet still end up speaking a similar creative language.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

I'd need to write 64 more letters by the end of the year if I want to hit a 100 letters/year statistic, hahaha...don't think that's going to happen unfortunately.  Right now I'm sitting at 96.521 letters per year, which doesn't seem TOO far off, but it's a lot to make up for when you consider that it's across 12.29 years...

These nights remind me of what it feels like to be alive.

It makes me unreasonably sad that I'm looking at my log and for many people the last time I wrote to them was an entire year ago, last October.

I mean that's totally understandable for these people whom I don't really consider to be close, or those people who I never even expect to hear back from or whatever

But it makes me sad seeing that even for the people whom are in my inner circle.  It makes me feel a twinge of failure, that I haven't been living up to myself.

I know it's not that bad though.  I don't feel terrible about it or anything because I don't feel that I've been doing a horrible job of keeping up with these people (mostly).  But the initial gut reaction upon realizing it, it does sting a bit.

As always though, the power is in myself to do something about it.  Winter is coming, after all, and if nothing else winter is the season for me to retrace my steps to the past.

...ok, who are we kidding, =every= season is the season for me to retrace my steps to the past.  But winter especially...the season most removed from change...

I hope this winter, that I'll be able to make the time to look back and remember my true self.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Literally every time I hear good music I think to myself "damn.  I want to make an entire album in this style"

LD45, other updates

So yeah, Ludum Dare 45 happened last weekend!  I made this:

Which you can play/download at https://ddrkirby.com/games/unlock-everything/unlock-everything.html

Rating goes on for another 2 weeks, after which we'll know the (largely inconsequential and somewhat random) results are, but aside from that, I'm super happy with how it came out and moreover, I had a BLAST making it, as I got to put a whole bunch of stuff that I love into the game.  It's been 3 full years since I last made an LD game by myself and it's quite impressive seeing how far I've managed to come in that time, in pretty much all aspects -- particularly in the art.  Using a 4-color palette and limited resolution (200x120) definitely helped, as well as referencing Mega Man a bunch, but even past that I generally felt a lot more confident in my ability to pixel and even animate to the best of my ability.  Those conveyor belts came out really nicely especially.  In terms of Godot as an engine, it worked fantastically.  It wasn't perfect, but I'm more than sold on using it from now on, without looking back.

As always, things have been a flurry in the week after LD, since I've had to track down a number of bugfixes and small changes, as well as put out the soundtrack and upload everything on itch.io, among other things.  I'd like to add some small extra post-game content and write some dev notes at some point if I have time in the next 2 weeks, but we'll see whether that actually ends up happening.


I got a bit behind on Inktober letters because of LD, so I've been playing catchup with those, but I'm about back on track now, so that has been going smoothly.

Randomly, I started developing some interest in whether I could make sense of Socionics (MBTI's much-less-mainstream but more usefully accepted cousin).  I haven't really wrapped my head around it yet, not even what type I might correspond to, but we'll see what comes out of that.

Puyo training continues every once in a while on the backburner.  I no longer feel 100% lost when I'm trying to do GTR, but it's still definitely more difficult for me to work out, both extending off of the transition itself as well as figuring out the tail.  I'm just going to have to experiment more and watch for ideas to take from other players...

Risk of Rain update came out with some interesting new skills to unlock, but I've unfortunately been unable to unlock any of them LOL.  sadtimes...

Dance has been pretty fun lately, surprisingly (?) enough.  As I'm writing about it in some of these Xmas letters it really started to strike me how much my social attitude toward dance has changed and how I feel about that (mixed, but generally good feelings).

Work is going just fine.  WFH has been working out great as always.

I'm starting to rewatch Chihayafuru, haha.  Just started now, so haven't gotten up to any of the super exciting parts yet.  I also started watching Symphogear...

Some things lately reminding me of my past (hah, since when is that ever not true?).  It's always a reminder to me, to make sure that I stay true to my past self.  For my past self is always a version of my ideal self.

Next cooking recipe to try out -- salmon chowder?

Meowmies are wonderful.

As always, there are infinity more things to still get done -- Patreon remix requests, album art, birthday letters, and the like -- but as always, I'll continue to try and work at them one by one, slowly but steadily bringing them each to completion.  What else would I be doing with my life if not that?

Thursday, October 10, 2019

"Big Five" Personality Test 2019

Here are the last results, from 2018, for reference.

Didn't spend a ton of time on it this time, went through pretty quickly.  A lot of the questions on this specific test are essentially repeats of each other.  I should probably try a different questionnaire for this one at some point, but here's the same one that I took last year and in 2011:

Openness           24 -> 32
Conscientiousness 100 -> 100
Extraversion        1 -> 1
Agreeableness      82 -> 65
Neuroticism        95 -> 71

That's more or less in line with before.  I worry less, which makes a lot of sense as I'm a little more laid back now (as in, I still constantly think about what needs to be done, but it doesn't =stress= me as much), and I guess I'm a little more judgmental of people, or at least have realized that I am such.  I think that's a function of having less of a syndrome of trying to really please people and hope for the best in them, I guess I am just more jaded with regards to people.  Certain things will do that to ya.

Really the only constants are the introversion, and even more than that the conscientiousness.  I swear if I could score over 100 on conscientiousness I would...every single question about that is always a snap answer for me no matter what type of test it is.  Getting things done in an extremely consistent and reliable manner is basically my driving force in life...

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Ludum Dare 45 cram time

Ludum Dare 45 is less than 3 days away now and I'm still trying to get everything done!  So far experimenting with Godot Engine has been great -- it's not perfect (no game engine ever is), but I've been pleasantly surprised with how easy it is to put things together despite being bogged down by having to repeatedly check documentation and look up how to do things.  Probably the absolute #1 thing that it's got going for it so far though is that it's lightweight, which means it's FAST.  Even an export to WebGL in release mode happens in the blink of an eye compared to Unity where I would literally use an entirely separate machine to do my builds so I wouldn't be blocked forever.  The html export is clean and just =makes sense= too -- no having to worry about random padding or silly borders or anything like that.  It's clean, slim, and honestly pretty great.  I've even been experimenting with some screenspace palette-based shaders that I could use for some dynamic lighting effects, so that's pretty cool too.  In general, the documentation is a little lacking, and some of the UI isn't 100% intuitive yet, and other things could use more shortcuts, but I'm pretty happy at all of the things that are working out of the box.

So here's the list of things that I managed to get all done since last time:

- Birthday letter done
- 4 xmas letters done
- September Monthlies pixel art done (and album published)
- Pixel art commision done (100 tiny sprites all drawn)
- Caught a cold now so I don't have to worry about getting sick later (lol...)
- Started work on a nifty side personal project as well
- Made good progress on the Godot warmup project

As far as the Godot side goes, I managed to figure out:

- The basics of scripting, nodes, scenes, signals, and all that
- How to use pixel art integer scaling and pixel snap
- How to animate sprites
- How to play sounds (basic)
- Tilemaps and autotiling
- Moving objects along paths
- Dynamic 2d lighting and pixel shaders
- Exporting to webgl, adjusting my site CSS/JS to accomodate
- Basic audio bus FX (limiter)

I still need to =build=:

- A project template and bitbucket repo for the jam
- Screen transitions!
- A splash screen intro placeholder
- A main menu placeholder
- A singleton for managing music/sound across scenes?

Other stuff I need to do:

- Take care of meowmies and quails
- One Hour Compo on Thursday, I'll probably try to warm up in chiptune style since I hope to make something with a very limited palette.
- Declare my starter code, make an "I'm In" post
- 1 more xmas letter
- Photograph the Inktober letters...
- Actual work for my job...
- Grocery run on Friday

Unfortunately the 4-wide trainer stuff, Patreon remix, etc will have to wait until later.  I don't know if I'll be able to slap a label on the godot warmup project and publish it, but I might try very quickly just to get it out of the way...


Sunday, September 22, 2019

Since Ludum Dare is in two weeks, I want to get some Christmas letters done ahead of time so I can still keep up with one letter a day for Inktober, so....it's officially that time of year again.  Xmas letters 2019, Mission Start!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

She was there
she was there with me again
and now she is gone
lost forever in this world that is reality

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

There are scant few times when I say to myself "screw it, I'm really just going to take a short break and RELAX right now by doing whatever I want" but every once in a while I run into them.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Rain is here <3

It seems to be checkup season for me as I have/had appointments with my doctor, dentist, and optometrist these two weeks.  So far the doctor and optometrist both told me that I'm looking pretty healthy, but we'll see about the dentist...haha (pretty sure I'll have to get some work done).

I think my goal for the upcoming Ludum Dare (10/4-6) is actually going to be to use Godot Engine!  I've had almost no experience actually using Godot (I downloaded it in the past a long time ago), but I'm feeling quite optimistic about it based on everything I've read, especially after they released their major 3.0 update.  Godot is open-source (no licensing whatsoever!) and looks to offer a 2D-optimized workflow (no silly hacks to get your pixel art working properly), somewhat of a hybrid between the lightweight nature of Flashpunk/Flixel plus the editor/scene view of something like Unity.  I'm actually feeling very hopeful that this will be my future engine of choice, though of course the only real way to tell will be to give it a test run.  Of course Rhythm Quest will still have to be finished up in Unity, but I don't think that's a huge deal to be honest.

This does mean that I'll have to ditch all of my Unity code that I've accumulated over the years, but hopefully a lot of it is things that I don't NEED anymore in Godot as I won't have to do my own boxcasting and 2d platformer physics implementations anymore -- that kind of functionality looks to be baked in so all you need to do is write the actual kinematic physics logic.  Audio functionality seems to be promising as well, there's even a page dedicated to syncing audio with gameplay, so you can tell these are issues that they're actually thinking about.  Of course need to look into playing around with the engine before LD actually hits, as well as maybe building out some common functions that I might need like screen transitions and the like (this could also be a good time to implement some fancier transitions rather than using screen fades for everything).

I've certainly got a lot of things to take care of in the remaining half of the month, but I'm getting through them one by one (already took care of the FNW setlist for example).  I guess here are the main things left that HAVE to get done in this timeframe:

- One or two more birthday letters to write
- Write a few Inktober letters ahead of time so I don't have to do them during LD
- Need to do pixel art for September Monthlies
- Pixel art commissions -- I've drawn 57 sprites, need to do ~43 more
- Warm up project for LD using Godot

There are some other things that would be pretty nice to get squared away as well:

- Clean up room decorations...
- Need to finish a remix for a Patreon request (I've already started)
- Finish work on my 4-wide trainer so I can publish it (mostly a bunch of documentation and formatting)
- Pixel art for some various album covers....

So yeah, a bunch of stuff.  We'll see how much of it I actually get through, but as always, as long as I'm making steady forward progress, I can't really complain.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Did the laundry, wrote a letter, prepared two meals, made some dance edits, put together a setlist, swept the floor, filed some letters....I'm on the right track for today.  There's still much to do, though.  Music, pixel art, coding, writing, cleaning...there's no way around it but to simply do each one of them in turn.  Life has no shortcuts or breaks, only tradeoffs and priorities.

Monday, September 9, 2019

It feels really silly, putting an address on the envelope
when I know it will never reach my past

But it's all a part of the ritual.  And this, too, is important.

"Celeste: Farewell" is out today.  I'll have to wait until an appropriate time to play through it with the attention that it deserves.

I'm not in any rush.  I know the mountain will be there, waiting for me.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Crunchyroll Expo, Mega Man 11, 2D Platformer ability design

Life has just been chugging along, it seems.  Nothing spectacular has been happening, but that's not a bad thing really at all.


Crunchyroll Expo 2019 happened and I stopped by on Saturday to hang out, walk around, and go to some things that seemed interesting.  I got to go see the premiere of the first two episodes of Season 3 of Chihayafuru which actually ended up being a highlight of the entire thing, I had no idea I was going to enjoy it that much!  That moment near the end when _____ finished playing their match and thought to themselves _________ and the other member on their team suddenly realized _________, omg, that really really got to me for some reason.  So yeah, that was great!  Makes me want to rewatch the first two seasons at some point, especially to refresh my memory about all of the other more minor characters that I completely forgot about, haha...oh!  And I just remembered that there's a live action movie series as well...maybe I'll give that a watch too =X


I bought and played through all of Mega Man 11!  I pulled the trigger after watching some reviews and such and since it was on sale on Steam.

I ended up enjoying it quite nicely!  It's a nice blend of old and new as far as Mega Man goes.  The thing with Mega Man is that the old tried and true formula is really just great at its core -- running and jumping and shooting.....more running and jumping and shooting....it's just good 2D platforming at its finest and I've always been a huge fan of it.  That said there ARE already a ton of classic Mega Man games out there, so as much as I'd love more games in the vein of Mega Man 9 and 10 (which were faithful to the NES series) (various fangames also exist, some of which I've played through), I will say that the fresh coat of paint that Mega Man 11 offers does make a lot of sense.

The graphics were pretty decent and I didn't mind the 2.5D much at all!  Unlike a certain other popular game pretty much everything was very readable -- just look at the screenshot above and how obvious it is that the yellow center pieces of each gear are in the foreground, while the rest of the gear is in the background.  One thing I thought looked a little odd were the "fuzziness" of the black outlines on the cel shading, but maybe I should chalk that up to me playing on a monitor with only 1280x1024 resolution?  Perhaps it looks better with a higher pixel density, but maybe rendering thin outlines is just not a strong point of the cel shaded look.

The bosses were pretty well designed -- they had a lot of personality, both in their animations and voice acting (I played only with the Japanese VA).

Maybe I was a bit biased after watching a video analyzing the level design, but I really did appreciate the designs of most of the stages and how they made for interesting progressions despite only using a few unique elements per stage.  It felt like they really made the most of many (perhaps not all, but many) of the different "gimmicks" they introduced in each stage, and that sort of clean, logical, and pleasant progression reminded me a little bit of Celeste.

The main "new mechanic" of MM11 is the "double gear system", which allows you to get a temporary limited boost to your power or slow down time for a bit.  It was an interesting concept, and actually played out pretty neatly in practice a few times -- those moments when you activate the both (double) gears at once for a last-ditch attempt to beat a miniboss and then finish the fight at low health.

However, one of my complaints about all of these "extra" 2D platforming abilities -- whether it be special weapons in mega man, additional items in shovel knight, or even magic spells in hollow knight -- is that they tend to provide a sort of frantic decision paralysis in the moment while you're in the middle of an intense fight or platforming section.

The issue is that platforming and jumping around and shooting and all of these things already occupies so much of your brainspace in terms of attention required, that it's really hard to also add in the double gear system and trying to use the different special weapons and all of those things.

Now that I'm writing about this, it really gets me thinking about 2D platformer ability design.  I know that other people might really enjoy switching between different weapons during the middle of a Mega Man level, but I've always found it to be cumbersome, and a weak point of the series for me personally -- I always Buster my way through most of the stages unless there's something particularly well suited for a particular weapon (e.g. a tricky room, a platform that I need to air-dash too, etc).

There are multiple reasons for this:
- Weapons have limited ammo available (whereas the mega buster has unlimited ammo), so you naturally want to conserve them for situations where you actually NEED them.
- In addition, the bosses at the end of each stage typically have a significant weakness to a single weapon, and you don't know what it is ahead of time.  Since the boss battle can be one of the most difficult parts of the entire stage, this incentivizes you to save all of your ammo for the boss.  Again, you don't know which weapon type you'll need, and frequently you'll need all of the ammo of that type to beat the boss.
- Switching weapons requires either opening up the menu -- which is awkward in terms of game flow -- or quick-toggling via the right analog stick or the shoulder buttons.  The right analog stick selection is actually great, but there aren't enough opportunities to really =practice= mapping each direction to a weapon in order for it to become second nature.  Because of this, switching weapons requires you to stop and think about which weapon you want to use, figure out which direction to press in order to switch, THEN go about using the weapon.

So even though I thought Mega Man 11's eight special weapons were GREAT in their variety and design (you could tell they each would be useful in very different cases), I didn't find myself using them much outside of boss and miniboss battles.

I know this is part of Mega Man's fundamental core design, so I don't really blame Capcom for not iterating on it, but I do wonder if perhaps a different mechanic for boss weapons would work a little better.

If you look at abilities in Metroidvania games, you'll see that they fall into two different groups:

Some abilities fit very naturally into gameplay and you find yourself using them again and again very naturally.
The most common way for abilities to fall into this category is for them to just be upgrades to your existing powers.  Get a main weapon upgrade?  You're automatically using it all the time.
Note that some abilities are not "direct" upgrades but natural and very obvious extensions of existing powers.  A doublejump ability, for example, is very straightforward to grok.  The speed booster upgrade in Super Metroid is the same way -- there's nothing complicated about how to activate it, you just keep running.
Another common way for abilities to fall into this category is for them to be required to be used very very commonly.  The morph ball in Metroid falls into this category -- you use it soooooo often that it becomes second nature for you to use it again and again and again.

Other abilities don't really become part of your regular rotation.  They're either too situational, difficult to use, have a cost associated with them, etc.
The X-Ray scope in super metroid sort of falls into this.  Not only does the X-Ray scope stop all of your momentum, but you often don't really =know= when and where you need to use it.  So oftentimes your only choice is to go through the entire world pausing every so often to x-ray scope......but nobody does that because that would take foreeevvverr.
Most of the attack spells in Hollow Knight tend to fall into this category.  Not only do they require mana to use (mana which could be used for healing instead!), but there aren't a lot of enemies where using a certain magic attack is required or even significantly recommended over just using your sword.

The good thing about the offensive spells in Hollow Knight, though, is that they're very easy to execute, like the special moves in the Smash Bros series: Button press gives you a fireball.  Up + button press gives you an upwards attack.  Down + button press gives you a dive.  Very intuitive.  So even though I never really ended up using most of these most of the time, they're still easy to remember.

Perhaps that's really the key -- the control scheme associated with the abilities.  The WORST way to add a new ability is to simply add a new button or key for every single ability you gain.  There are some games where at the end of the game literally every button on the controller performs a different action: Jump, Attack, Sprint, Dash, Glide, Special Move 1, Teleport, ....

So maybe =intuitive button combos= and =contextual actions= are the way to go.  That still doesn't fix the problem of having limited ammo though.

What about something like this?

Every time you beat a robot master, you unlock a new ability.  These abilities have various intuitive input commands, for example:

Jump + Attack (while in the air): Performs a mid-air forward dash with a sword slice.
Special button + no direction: Creates an energy shield around you that absorbs enemy projectiles.  The next time you press the special button, the shield fires in the direction that you are holding (or facing)
Special button + either side: Shoots a boomerang in the direction that you're facing.  It has some tracking ability, which means you can direct it upwards or downwards by jumping before or after the shot.
Special button + down: Sends an energy bolt downwards.  When it reaches the ground, it splits into two energy balls that travel along the ground until hitting an enemy.
Special button (while mega buster is fully charged): 

Button combinations and contextual actions are used to help your muscle memory instead of forcing the player to memorize the arbitrary position of each of 8 different weapons.

These abilities all draw from a =shared ammo pool=, encouraging you to choose the ability that best fits the situation.

The shared ammo pool replenishes every time you die.  Normally Mega Man weapons encourage you to AVOID using them carelessly, because if you use up ammo on a boss and then die, you're left in a worse situation than you started with -- having to face the same boss battle, but with less ammo available.

In addition, the shared ammo pool also replenishes through normal gameplay, via something like:
- Gradual replenishment over time
- Replenishes with each enemy destroyed
- Replenishes via random pickups from enemies and scattered around the level.  There's also a large pickup before each boss.

The point is to encourage the regular use of these weapons as the situation demands, rather than incentivize saving ammo for the very end.  You need the player to become comfortable with using each of these abilities and the only way to really do this is to incentivize them to use them repeatedly.

So I dunno, maybe that's not a perfect solution.  But I do feel like there is a lot of room for experimentation and iteration here.

One thing that Mega Man 11 DID do right was giving rush coil/rush jet it's own button.  Woo!!!


Have been continuing to drill puyo transitions -- I've gotten sort of comfortable with the sandwich transition and am now trying to wrap my head around GTR.  Building the GTR core is ok, but I find myself having trouble finding the right forms to work on both the first and second floor simultaneously with GTR since it's only 3 tall and I don't yet have a handle on managing color conflicts.